Principles of Clear Thinking

Type: Principles
Sources: Principles of Clear Thinking. <- Blog on 2007-03-27; rest: own thoughts


These Principles of Clear Thinking encompass a basic set of conditions to meet whenever you are doing engineering work.

Rules and Notes

R1. You have to have a clear set of objectives and constraints, to evaluate proposed solutions or strategies against.

R2. You have to have a reasonable set of facts about the benefits and costs of any proposed idea, so that you can relate it to you current outstanding requirements.

R3. You have to have some notion of the risks associated with the idea, so that you can understand and take account of the worst possible case.

R4. You have to have some ideas about how to test the ideas gradually, early and on a small scale before committing to full scale implementation.

R5. If there are more than very few factors involved ( 2 to 4) then you are going to have to use a written model of the objectives, constraints, costs, benefits, and risks.

R6. If you want to check your thinking with anyone else, then you will need a written model to safely and completely share your understanding with anyone else.

R7. You will need to make a clear distinction between necessities (constraints) and desirables (targets).

R8. You will need to state all assumptions clearly, in writing, and to challenge them, or ask ‘what if they are not true?’

R9. You will want to have a backup plan, contingencies, for the worst case scenarios – failure to fund, failure for benefits to materialize, unexpected risk elements, political problems.

R10. Assume that information from other people is unreliable, slanted, incomplete, risky – and needs checking.

R11. Assume that you models are incomplete and wrong, so check the evidence to support, modify or destroy your models.

Costs, Savings

What does it take to implement those rules? What does it give?

Side effects

Is there anything that happend or will happen as one implements the rules? This relates to both wanted and unwanted effects ('unwanted' does not imply 'negative').

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